Jan 22nd, 2018, 02:09 PM

Bannon to Cooperate With Mueller Inquiry?

By Teresa Segovia
Image credit: Flickr / Gage Skidmore
As the White House censors Steve Bannon with executive privilege, he claims he is to cooperate with Special Investigator Robert Mueller for a private interview

The relationship between Steve Bannon, the former chairman of the far-right news network Breitbart, and President Trump quickly went from being warm and friendly to antagonistic. Bannon went from working in the 2016 campaign to being Chief Strategist in White House for the duration of several months. He now strongly criticizes the Trump administration. 

According to an article in the Business Insider, Trump said: "Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books." Trump is referring to the information in which Bannon was quoted by Michael Wolff in his controversial book: Fire and Fury. He suggested that the Russia Investigation will ultimately be centered around a money laundering scheme through Trump's son in law Jared Kushner. He also comments on a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower. According to Bannon, this took place in order to obtain compromising information against Hillary Clinton, which he described as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic". After the release of the book and various statements on Trump by Bannon, Congress requested interviews with Bannon in order to uncover information on the possibility of a collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Kremlin.ru

To this the White House decided to respond with executive privilege, which gives them the ability to censor Bannon and ultimately delay the investigation. Through executive privilege Presidents have had the opportunity to withhold certain documents and communication. Given the right circumstances, such as documents being relevant to a criminal trial, it may be revoked, unless it is pertaining to a matter of national security. 

Historically executive privilege has been linked to scandal on various occasions, from Watergate with Nixon to the Monica Lewinsky scandal with Clinton. However, executive privilege serves the purpose of protecting certain liberties between a President and his advisors, to assure frank counsel. In this case, with the pretext of protecting said liberties, the former White House Chief Strategist has been guided into silence by the White House. His interview with the House Intelligence Committee lasted ten hours, only to produce results as futile as Jeff Sessions' memory, leaving both Democrats and Republicans equally frustrated.

According to an article by The New York Times, Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Bannon to appear before a grand jury. Instead Bannon agreed to being interviewed privately in Mueller's offices in downtown Washington. To this the White House responded with the same course of action involving executive privilege once again, requesting to speak with Bannon's lawyers in order to review the information to be disclosed pertaining the Russia Investigation. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to this as a "process" that has been in place for decades, one with precedent which will be followed by many administrations to come. She carefully avoids mentioning the fact that the inquiry is pertaining to President Trump's electoral campaign and a possible collusion with Russia, which would refer to criminal activity in which case executive privilege could be revoked.